October 2016 is free wills month when charities urge the over 55s to make or update their simple wills without any charge.
The campaign matches people with local solicitors who will advise them free of charge.
Only one of a couple has to be aged over 55 to take up the offer.
Having a current will ensures any wishes about how to dispose of wealth and personal possessions are followed in death.
Free Wills Month is sponsored by several charities, including children’s organisation NSPCC; armed forces charity SSAFA and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
To help with making a will, the charities have devised a wills planner that goes through the process step-by-step and provides an indispensable template for a lawyer.
Wills for expats
The will is only valid in Britain, so expats need to have local wills in the UK and any other country where they may have money, property or personal possessions.
According to research by SunLife, a financial firm, at least 128,000 over 55s died without a will in 2015 – which adds up to just over one in four of the age group dying intestate every year.
“Death is such a taboo subject”, said Graham Jones, director at SunLife “People do not like talking about it, and as a result, they are not planning for it. Without a will, you have no say in how your assets are divided.”
Dying without a will can cause all sorts of problems for those left behind, as there are no clear instructions over how to divide the estate.
Without a will, the executors give any assets up to a value of £250,000 to the surviving spouse, plus all the deceased’s personal possessions.
The rest is divided among surviving children.
Other costs of dying
SunLife also observes that funeral planning – especially paying for the event – is often overlooked when making a will. The average funeral costs almost £4,000 and settling the bill can leave surviving relatives in financial difficulties.
Loosely termed wills are often the subject of disputes among disgruntled relatives.
Recently, a woman cut from her father’s will lost a claim against his £1 million estate in Central London County Court.
Danielle Ames, 41, has to pay £135,000 costs after a judge told her not working was a lifestyle choice and that her father would not have approved of bailing her out with cash if he was still alive.